Protected Classes

What Are Federally Protected Classes?

Protected classes are groups of people that the law protects from being unfairly treated because of specific characteristics they have. These qualities are called protected characteristics.

Almost 50% of the classes protected by law are in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The other half is written in other laws made by the federal government. Protected classes help people in many situations, including looking for jobs, buying or renting a home, going to school, or using public accommodations.

What are the 10 Protected Classes?

The US has ten protected classes. At work, people are protected from discrimination based on these characteristics:

  • Race

  • Skin color

  • Religion

  • Age (if over 40)

  • Sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity, and pregnancy)

  • Disability status

  • Nationality(including ethnicity and accent)

  • Genetics (including those of your family)

  • Past, present, or future military service

  • Citizenship or immigrationsstatus.

Employers can't deny someone a job or promotion based on their inclusion in these groups. Doing so would be considered unlawful discrimination under federal law.

Some states have laws that protect people from unfair treatment based on additional characteristics. Employers must know these rules to ensure compliance.

The Benefit of Anti-discrimination Policies

To ensure that everyone is aware of the protected characteristics, employers may include an anti-discrimination policy in their employee handbook. This serves as a reference for employees and sets clear expectations for appropriate behavior in the workplace.

Anti-discrimination policies help to create a safe and inclusive work environment. In doing so, businesses can improve employee morale, engagement, and productivity.

Anti-discrimination policies can also help protect businesses from legal liability in case of discrimination claims or lawsuits. Additionally, anti-discrimination policies can help companies attract and retain a diverse workforce, bringing various perspectives and ideas to the organization.

By promoting a policy of diversity, equity, and inclusion, businesses can create a more innovative and competitive workplace that is better equipped to meet the needs of a diverse customer base.

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